In less than four years, sisters Celeste and Satu Greenberg, of Tuleste Market, have carved out a growing vintage-inspired niche in the accessories world, launching costume jewelry (fall 2007), then shoes (spring 2011) and now handbags (fall 2011). More than 100 stores carry their product, but the entire enterprise is still run from the Greenberg’s Second Avenue apartment-studio in New York, where the first floor has become a makeshift jewelry closet with tables, racks and fishbowls full of their ongoing collections and new product — all of which is shipped directly from there. Upstairs, their living room doubles as a design studio and showroom of sorts. Sketches and shoe samples line one wall, the handbag collection the other. A floral mural hangs above the couch, which, conveniently, served as the backdrop for their fall look book.
“Initially we wanted to launch the handbags first, right after the jewelry,” said Celeste. “We wanted to branch out and do all accessories and eventually a cool clothing collection. But we wanted to make sure we had the right manufacturer.” All of their collections are produced in China by factories that they’ve found through word-of-mouth. The bags come in six styles that range from $295 to $495 and will be sold at Shopbop.com, which currently carries Tuleste’s other collections. Like the jewelry and shoes, there’s a definite vintage tone in the bag range, all of which is done in leather — colorful blue and burgundy, as well as black and brown — with graphic hardware accents, including the rose gold rosettes that have become something of a signature, and quilted details in the shape of a T, for Tuleste.
For now Tuleste is a small, independent operation, with the Greenbergs and two freelancers as the only staff; they work with a business consultant and two agents in Los Angeles. Neither sister has formal design training, but both spent years freelancing on the editorial side of magazines and in the production department for designers including Jason Wu, Derek Lam and Peter Som. “We want to be making more things,” said Satu, “but design is such a small percentage of our time right now.”